Pongal in pot

Pongal is the harvest festival celebrated in Tamilnadu by worshiping Sun & earth to express our gratitude for the entire year’s harvests. On this day we still follow the traditional method of cooking rice in brass, stainless steel or earthen pots. We decorate the Pongal Paanai (pot) with kolam drawn using rice flour & turmeric powder and tie the ginger or turmeric sprouts around its neck. Pongal means boiling over, it signifies prosperity & abundance, and hence it is considered auspicious to have boiled over while cooking pongal. We use Pongal paanai rather than electric cooker or pressure cooker as spilling over happens only when cooking pongal in pot.

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Turmeric root tied around Pongal Paanai

Traditionally farmers use recently harvested rice for making Pongal in this harvest festival. Others make Pongal using kaikuthal arisi (hand-pounded rice) or traditional rice varieties like kavuni arisi, thooya malli arisi, karung kuruvai arisi, mappillai samba arisi, poongar arisi, etc. and some like to use millets like kodo millet, foxtail millet, etc.

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Generally we make pongal sadam & sarkarai pongal mainly to serve for lunch. I like to prepare venn pongal & sweet pongal on this day as I feel it is convenient to serve venn pongal for breakfast and sweet pongal for lunch. You may also refer all my recipes prepared for Pongal festival here. Now let’s prepare pongal in pot:

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Sarkarai Pongal & Venn Pongal

Venn Pongal in Pot

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I used fresh turmeric roots instead of turmeric powder for their amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Fresh turmeric has a unique aroma but tastes slightly bitter. Since we get fresh turmeric roots only for few days every January I like to use them in as many recipes as possible by replacing turmeric powder. Now the recipe for Venn Pongal using fresh turmeric root:

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Fresh turmeric root

Time Taken: 30 min.
Yields : 2½ cups


  1. Raw rice (pacharisi) – 1 cup
  2. Green gram lentils (paasi paruppu) – ½ cup
  3. Water – 2 Litres
  4. Salt – 1½ tsp

For tempering #1 :

  1. Any neutral oil (or ghee) – 2 tbsp (30 ml) (I used saffola oil)
  2. Pepper – 1 tsp
  3. Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  4. Fresh ginger – a thumb sized
  5. Fresh turmeric – 2 pieces (each 1 inch)

For tempering #2 :

  1. Ghee – 2 tsp
  2. Cashewnuts – 12-15 Nos.
  3. Curry leaves – 2 sprigs

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Cooking Method:

  • Heat a pan in low flame and  roast lentils until they get heated up.
  • Wash rice & roasted lentil and discard the water.
  • Again rinse them in 2 Litres of water & keep them immersed in the same water.
  • Heat a cooking pot, pour rinsing water in to the pot and bring it to a boil in high flame.
  • When the water begins to boil over, reduce the flame to low.
  • Pour frothy foamy water out using a ladle.
  • Add rice & lentil into the boiling water and cook in medium flame.
  • Meanwhile prepare the tempering #1 as shown below and pour into the pot.
  • Now cook the rice-lentil mixture (in low flame) covered allowing it get infused with those spices.
  • When the mixture turned mushy, add salt and mix well.
  • Prepare the tempering #2 and mix with pongal.
  • Remove from heat and transfer ven pongal to a hot casserole immediately.
  • Serve hot with coconut chutney & sambar.

venpngl Pongal in pot

Sarkarai Pongal in Pot

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Sakkarai Pongal

Time Taken: 30 min.
Yields : 2¼ cups


  1. Raw rice (pacharisi) – 1 cup
  2. Powdered cane jaggery (vellam) – 1 cup
  3. Water – 1½ Litre
  4. Milk – 1 cup
  5. Cardamom – 2 Nos.
  6. Edible camphor (pachaikarpooram) – a small piece

For tempering:

  1. Ghee – 1 tbsp
  2. Cashew nuts – 10 Nos.
  3. Raisins – 20 Nos.

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Cooking Method:

  • Wash rice and discard the water.
  • Now rinse again using 1½ litres of water and keep the rice immersed in the same water.
  • Pour rice-rinsing water & milk (1 cup) into the cooking pot and bring it to a boil in high flame.
  • When the milk boiled over, reduce the flame to low.
  • Add rice and cook until mushy in medium flame.
  • Mash rice well with the back of a ladle.
  • Add powdered jaggery and cook in low flame until coagulated.
  • Add powdered cardamom seeds & edible camphor and mix well.
  • Prepare the tempering as shown in the gif below and add into the pot.
  • Mix well and remove from heat.
  • Transfer hot sweet pongal to a hot casserole immediately.
  • Pour hot ghee over sakkarai pongal before serving, if you don’t count the calories. 🙂
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Sakkarai pongal paanai

Meals with Pongal

Our typical breakfast platter on Pongal day consists of idli, medhu vadai, venn pongal, sweet pongal, coconut chutney & sambar.

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Breakfast platter for Pongal festival

The traditional simple pongal menu for lunch comprises of kadamba sambar, avial, red pumpkin sweet poriyal, appalam, medhu vadaisweet pongal and buttermilk.

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Lunch on banana leaf for Pongal festival

102 comments on “Pongal in potAdd yours →

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  1. Dear Megala, you make this look so beautiful – in addition to delicious! One feels this absolutely must be tried – even if out-of-season 😉
    I will go see if I can get some fresh turmeric or ginger sprouts somewhere … 😉 🙂 🙂
    Warm greetings, dear friend, and best wishes! 😊🌈☀️

    1. Thanks so much, Elena, for reading this old post and leaving your comment. 🙂
      Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! 🙂

  2. Beautifully presented… Wow… How do you do it. I cook rarely and I am extremely messy… Are you on television too?? With your own show or on YouTube??

        1. Aww! Thanks, dear Shalini !! I’m enjoying myself as a blogger, and I’m here to archive my recipes that are most beneficial to me and my extended family. 🙂

    1. Thanks, and same to you ! Hope I won’t disappoint you, some interesting recipes are lined up here !! 🙂

  3. Hey dear! Your work keeps inspiring me and thus, I brought another award for you as you deserve many more.Do check my post once to know further. ??

  4. Nice to get the traditional recipe from your blog Megala, looks so comforting and delicious!! Hope you had a great Pongal !

  5. Like everyone, I too loved the way the Pongal paanai was tied so beautifully with a turmeric plant! Here at home I cook Pongal in a pressure cooker but we buy turmeric plants and sugarcane for puja!
    Happy Pongal!

  6. 2018 in beginning well in my blog world! Estonian-born but Australian bred I actually ‘found’ you on the KR post in Estonia! Well, Australia being South Indian food crazy. methinks you are going to teach me a great deal!! OK: let us begin at the very beginning – I had never used the word ‘pongal’ , ,. , , you see how much I have to learn 🙂 !

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by ! Obviously you could learn to understand south Indian vegetarian food in this blog here and hopefully you would get a chance to taste some of them served at the restaurants in Australia !! 🙂

  7. Great to learn the difference between the sweet and the savory pongals. I love the vessel in your first picture. What are those greens tied around it?

    1. Nice to hear this ! It is a turmeric plant tied around the pot’s neck, this is our ritual to decorate the pots with turmeric and/or ginger plants along with flowers before making pongal.

  8. Happy Pongal, Megala! What a treat the traditional meal is. I loved both the sweet and savory pongal recipes!

  9. I love you blog because of very interesting recipes 🙂 Thank you ( one more time) for inspiration 🙂 🙂

  10. Wow…Nice recipe….I love pongal but have never tried making it at home..But now I am going to make it with your recipe soon..?

  11. Been seeing a lot of Pongal posts which is awesome! Those look really good and love sweet pongal esp during festivals. Wish you and your family a very Happy Pongal 🙂

  12. Happy Pongal Megala, may this Pongal bring good luck, happiness and prosperity to you and your family. We celebrate Lohri today and Makar Sankranti tomorrow.

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